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White Brazilians

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White Brazilians (Portuguese: brasileiros brancos [bɾɐziˈle(j)ɾuz ˈbɾɐ̃kus]) refers to Brazilian citizens of European or Levantine descent. According to the 2010 Census, they totaled 91,051,646 people, and made up 47.73% of the Brazilian population.[1] The main ancestry of white Brazilians is Portuguese, followed by Italian, Spanish, German,

White Brazilians
Brasileiros brancos
Total population
47.73% of the Brazilian population[1]
Regions with significant populations
   Entire country; highest percentages found in southern and southeastern Brazil
Main language


Minorities speak assorted languages and dialects, such as

and other German-speaking nationalities (Austrian,Poles, Ukrainian,Swedian,Greeks,Hungarians,Latvian,Czechs,Croatian, Swiss,Romanian, Bulgarian and Luxembourger)[22] Slavic (Polish, Ukrainian and Russian), Levantine, Dutch, French and Baltic.

The white Brazilian population is spread throughout the national territory, but its highest percentage is found in the three southernmost states, where 79.8% of the population has European or Caucasian phenotype, whereas the Southeast region has the largest absolute numbers.[23]

The states with the highest percentage of white citizens are: Santa Catarina (88.96%), Rio Grande do Sul (85.30%), Paraná (79.24%) and São Paulo (73.40%). Other states with significant rates are: Rio de Janeiro (58.82%), Mato Grosso do Sul (56.78%), Espírito Santo (50.45%), Minas Gerais (47.24%) and Goiás (43.60%).[24][25] São Paulo has the largest population in absolute numbers with 30 million whites.[26]


Conception of whiteEdit

Main ethnic groups in Brazil

The Brazilian concept of "white race" might be somewhat different from the concept of "white race" in other countries since race is seen in a spectrum, with different races being perceived as assorted series of continua, but the same concepts can be found in other New World countries or former European colonies like Australia.[27] A comprehensive study presented by the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research found that on average, white Brazilians are (>83%) European.[28] Another autosomal study carried out by the geneticist Sergio Pena showed that the overwhelming ancestry of "white" Brazilians is European.[28][29]

According to another autosomal DNA study (from 2009) conducted on a school in the poor periphery of Rio de Janeiro the "whites" from a sample of just 90 students (who thought of themselves as "very mixed") were found to carry very little Amerindian or African admixtures (generally about 90% European in ancestry on average). "The results of the tests of genomic ancestry are quite different from the self-made estimates of European ancestry", say the researchers. In general, the test results showed that European ancestry is far more important than those students had thought it would be. The "pardos" were found to have a European ancestry on average of 80% (autosomal ancestry)[30][31] However this study, a random sample of 90 students, 30 of whom had classified themselves as white, 30 as brown, and 20 as black, although important in understanding racial categorizations in Brazil in no way represents the genetic makeup of the entire population of this nation that is the fifth largest in the world by territory and whose different regions were populated by different ethnic groups during different historical periods.

The degree of miscegenation in Brazil varies according to region, being particularly high in the Northeast region, the first to receive large European waves during the colonial period; Brazil was originally colonised only by a few families of Portuguese settlers in the first decades of the 16th century, with some French families included; instead there were many mostly Portuguese individual male adventurers, who tended to reproduce with Amerindian females at first and later with African females, even though the Crown had sent female orphans under royal custody during the colonial period to marry Portuguese male settlers; with noblemen marrying the ones whose fathers had died serving abroad in the military especially in Asian colonies.[32][33] The later settlers from the largest European influx after the discovery of gold and diamonds in Central Brazil post both brazilwood and sugarcane economical cycles, however, would tend also to reproduce with women who were the product of previous miscegenation in Brazil, besides the European female immigrants to whom they were married. According to a genealogical and demographic study carried out by the sociologist Mario Jaramillo e Contreras, member of the Junta Directiva de la Real Asociación de Hidalgos de España, a non-profitable apolitical organization, over 15% of Latin Americans today descend from Iberian nobles who migrated to the Americas during the colonial period after the conceptual three "G"s, gold, God and glory, meaning financial success and military fame and renown, besides bringing new converted souls to the Church.[34]

However, social prejudice connected to certain details in the physical appearance of individual is widespread. Those details are related to the concept of "cor". "Cor", Portuguese for "color" denotes the Brazilian rough equivalent of the term "race" in English, but is based on a complex phenotypic evaluation that takes into account skin pigmentation, hair type, nose shape, and lip shape. This concept, unlike the English notion of "race", captures the continuous aspects of phenotypes. Thus, it seems there is no racial descent rule operational in Brazil; it is even possible for two siblings to belong to completely diverse "racial" categories.[35] Although in the most recent census, with the increased valorisation of indigenous, mixed, black, anusim and gipsy or romani heritage thanks to affirmative action, large numbers of mixed mestizo, castizo, eurasians or mixed white + black, as well as black Brazilians selected black and mixed even with higher socioeconomic status, who probably would've selected white or mixed in the 2000 Census, thus giving a clearer picture on Brazil's demographic makeup.[36] Notwithstanding the new consciousness, the fact that the fertility rate in Brazil has dropped considerably in the last decades, especially among European descendants, Jews, Levantines and Japanese-Brazilians reaching below replacement rates can also be counted as an additional factor.[37][38]

The following are the results for the different Brazilian censuses, since 1872:

Brazilian Population, by Race, from 1872 to 20101 (Census Data)
Race or Colour Brancos (whites) Pardos (multiracial) Pretos (blacks) Caboclos Amarelos (asians) Indigenous Undeclared Total
18722 3,787,289 3,801,782 1,954,452 386,955 - - - 9,930,478
1890 6,302,198 4,638,4963 2,097,426 1,295,7953 - - - 14,333,915
1940 26,171,778 8,744,3654 6,035,869 - 242,320 - 41,983 41,236,315
1950 32,027,661 13,786,742 5,692,657 - 329,082 -5 108,255 51,944,397
1960 42,838,639 20,706,431 6,116,848 - 482,848 -6 46,604 70,191,370
1980 64,540,467 46,233,531 7,046,906 - 672,251 - 517,897 119,011,052
1991[39] 75,704,927 62,316,064 7,335,136 - 630,656 294,135 534,878 146,815,796
2000[40] 91,298,042 65,318,092 10,554,336 - 761,583 734,127 1,206,675 169,872,856
2010[41] 91,051,646 82,277,333 14,517,961 - 2,084,288 817,963 6,608 190,755,799
Race or Colour Brancos (whites) Pardos (multiracial) Pretos (blacks) Caboclos Amarelos (asians) Indigenous Undeclared Total
1872 38.14% 38.28% 19.68% 3.90% - - - 100%
1890 43.97% 32.36% 14.63% 9.04% - - - 100%
1940 63.47% 21.21% 14.64% - 0.59% - 0.10% 100%
1950 61.66% 26.54% 10.96% - 0.63% - 0.21% 100%
1960 61.03% 29.50% 8.71% - 0.69% - 0.07% 100%
1980 54.23% 38.85% 5.92% - 0.56% - 0.44% 100%
1991 51.56% 42.45% 5.00% - 0.43% 0.20% 0.36% 100%
2000 53.74% 38.45% 6.21% - 0.45% 0.43% 0.71% 100%
2010 47.73% 43.13% 7.61% - 1.09% 0.43% 0.00% 100%

^1 The 1900, 1920, and 1970 censuses did not count people for "race".

^2 In the 1872 census, people were counted based on self-declaration, except for slaves, who were classified by their owners.[42]

^3 The 1872 and 1890 censuses counted "caboclos" (White-Amerindian mixed race people) apart.[43] In the 1890 census, the category "pardo" was replaced with "mestiço".[43] Figures for 1890 are available at the IBGE site.[44]

^4 In the 1940 census, people were asked for their "colour or race"; if the answer was not "White", "Black", or "Asians", interviewers were instructed to fill the "colour or race" box with a slash. These slashes were later summed up in the category "pardo". In practice this means answers such as "pardo", "moreno", "mulato", "caboclo", etc.[45]

^5 In the 1950 census, the category "pardo" was included on its own. Amerindians were counted as "pardos".[46]

^6 The 1960 census adopted a similar system, again explicitly including Amerindians as "pardos".[47]

In the past, ancestry was quite irrelevant for racial classifications in Brazil. A survey in Rio de Janeiro also concluded that "racial-purity" is not important for a person to be classified as white in Brazil. The survey asked respondents if they had any ancestors who were European, African or Amerindian. As much as 52% of those whites reported they have some non-European ancestry: 23% reported to have some Black African ancestry and 29% reported Amerindian ancestry (15% of them reported to have both). Only 56% of those whites did not report any nonwhite ancestry. Thus, in Brazil, one can self-identify as white and still have African or Amerindian ancestry, and such a person has no problem admitting to having nonwhite ancestors.[48] The most recent census in 2010, showed a shift in mentality, where mixed Brazilians whose DNA might have European markers in a range spanning from 70% to 85%, overwhelmingly chose to identify with their mixed racial background, rather than white. These backgrounds being predominantly Caboclo or mestiço, known in the Spanish-speaking world as Mestizo and Castizo for the most part, but also black and white mix, or black plus Native plus white, what in the past was known as Octoroon, as well as Romani or Gipsy, Anusim or Dutch and Lusitanian Crypto Jew, and Eurasian or Hāfu and ainoko.[36] Affirmative action and identity valorisation being factors, albeit fertility rate among European ancestry, Levantine and Jewish citizens plummeting being another factor part of the equation.

Self-reported ancestry of whites from Rio de Janeiro (2000 survey)[48]
European only 48%
European and African 25%
European, African and Amerindian 15%
European and Amerindian 14%

Given this ambiguity and fluidity, there are people who claim that the few racial categories offered by the IBGE are not enough. When Brazilians answer to open-ended questions about race, up to 143 different race-color terms are brought. The most common is "moreno", a category that refers to a wide spectrum of phenotypes. It can mean "dark-haired", "tawny", "suntanned", but it is also used as a euphemism for "pardo" and "black", according to context.[49] It is not a synonym with "pardo", however, since each word refers to widely different sets of people.

An important factor about whiteness in Brazil is the racial stigma of being Amerindian or black, which is undesirable and avoided for a large part of the population. Scientific racism largely influenced race relations in Brazil since the late 19th century.[48] The predominant nonwhite, mostly Afro-Brazilian population was seen as a problem for Brazil in the eyes of the predominantly white elite of the country. In contrast to some countries, like the United States or South Africa, which tried to avoid miscegenation, even imposing anti-miscegenation laws, in Brazil, miscegenation was always legal. What was expected was that miscegenation would eventually turn all Brazilians into whites.[48]

As a result of that desire of whitening its own population, the Brazilian ruling classes encouraged the arrival of massive European immigration to the country. In the 1890s 1.2 million European immigrants were added to the country's 5 million whites. Today the Brazilian areas with larger proportions of whites tend to have been destinations of massive European immigration between 1880 and 1930.[48]

Even though expectations of the Brazilian elite to whiten its own population through European immigration came to an end in the 1930s, the whitening ideology still influences racial relations in Brazil today. In general, the population still expects that blacks must biologically whiten themselves by marriage with lighter skinned people, or culturally through the assimilation of the traditions of the dominant white population.[48] That leads mixed-race people to be perceived as whites,[48] and this is more evident when a nonwhite person becomes wealthier and is incorporated in the ruling classes.

For example, Brazilian writer, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, was a mulatto. However, once he gained fame and prestige, people started to accept him as a white man, and on his death certificate he was classified as a "white man".[50] Better educated and wealthier Brazilians usually see themselves as whites (a strict association between wealth and whiteness).[48] A study[48] showed that when mixed-race Brazilians get wealthier they start to be perceived as whites by others, who usually avoid associating a wealthy person with a non-white racial category. But only mixed-race people can "become white" when they get richer, while typically black people will always be perceived as blacks, no matter how rich they get.[48]

It showed that less educated black Brazilians avoid being associated as Black (usually choosing the word "Moreno": literally "tanned", "brunette", "with an olive complexion"[51] – to classify themselves). Better-educated black Brazilians, however, are more than eight times more likely as persons of a low level of education to identify themselves as blacks, while better educated mixed-race people usually jump to the white category.[48] Research published by the American Sociological Review found that the growth of the pardo population would be in part due to large numbers of blacks "whitening" themselves by reporting to be brown (mulatto). Studies have found a large trend in reclassification (whitening) from black to brown in the 1950 to 1980 period, a much smaller one from white to pardo, and a similar but less pronounced pattern between 1980 and 1990. Academics attribute this switch from black to pardo to high rates of black upward mobility during the 1970s, consistent with a "money whitens" hypothesis, that is blacks would whiten themselves by reporting as pardo the more wealthy they become. These results would demonstrate a tendency for what is called branqueamento, that means that blacks would tend to self-classify as whiter. In this case, differences found in the share of blacks between census results would demonstrate that blacks tend to self-classify as pardos. Some researchers suggested to merge the two into a single Afro-Brazilian category (e.g., Lovell 1994; Wood and Carvalho 1988; Wood and Lovell 1992).[52] Brazilian geneticist Sérgio Pena has criticised American scholar Edward Telles for lumping "pretos" and "pardos" in the same category. According to him, "the autosomal genetic analysis that we have performed in non-related individuals [...] shows that it does not make any sense to put "pretos" and "pardos" in the same category".[53]

The integration of races in Brazil did not build a racial democracy, where racism would not exist because all Brazilians saw themselves as equal because of their common multiracial heritage. Even though this theory was dominant in Brazil for decades, although it is still followed by some today, most scholars now think that miscegenation in Brazil created not an egalitarian society[citation needed] but a society where lighter-skinned people are found mostly on the top and the darker-skinned are mostly found on the bottom.[54]


Brazil received more European settlers during its colonial era than any other country in the Americas. Between 1500 and 1760, about 700,000 European immigrated to Brazil, compared to 530,000 European immigrants in the United States.[55][56]

Practically all Europeans coming to Brazil before 1818 were Portuguese. Available data seems to point that most Portuguese settlers in Brazil came from northern Portugal, especially from Minho (in 1801, 45% of the Portuguese established in São Paulo were "minhotos", 20% from the Azores Islands, 16% from Lisbon and 19% from other parts[57]). Another significant portion came from the Portuguese Atlantic Island of Madeira.

An important feature of the Portuguese colonization was the overwhelming predominance of males. This disproportion was a problem during much of the colonial period. The Portuguese Crown even sent orphaned women under royal wardship for marriage with the settlers known as Órfãs d'El-Rei,[58][59][60][61] but a large part of the settlers were involved in relationships with indigenous women and African slaves. It is remarkable that most Portuguese settlers arrived in Brazil in the 18th century: 600,000 in a period of only 60 years. The exploitation of gold and diamonds in the region of Minas Gerais has been a crucial factor in the arrival of this contingent of colonists.[55]

New ChristiansEdit

The "New Christians" was a term used to refer to Portuguese Jews who converted to Roman Catholicism, and their known baptized descendants. Portugal has always had a sizable Jewish community inhabiting its territory. There was a healthy degree of acceptance and tolerance towards Jewish religion, language and culture. However, after the inquisition set a foothold in Spain about 60.000 Jews fled to Portugal where King John II sold them a residency. Five years later, when the Inquisition moved to Portugal, all people of Jewish ancestry were forced to be baptized and became the New Christians. Many moved from Portugal and established themselves in Brazil. According to researcher Flávio Mendes de Carvalho in his book The Jewish Roots of Brazil, between 25% and 35% of the Brazilian population descends from these New Christians, which is the equivalent of 66 million people.[citation needed]

Non-Portuguese presence in colonial BrazilEdit

Before the 19th century, the French invaded twice, establishing brief and minor settlements (Rio de Janeiro, 1555–60; Maranhão, 1612–15);[62] In 1630, the Dutch made the most significant attempt to seize Brazil from Portuguese control. At the time, Portugal was in a dynastic union with Spain, and the Dutch hostility against Spain was transferred to Portugal. The Dutch were able to control most of the Brazilian Northeast – then the most dynamic part of Brazil – for about a quarter century, but were unable to change the ethnic makeup of the colonizing population, which remained overwhelmingly Portuguese by origin and culture.[63] Sephardic Jews of Portuguese origin moved from Amsterdam to New Holland;[63] but in 1654, when the Portuguese regained control of Brazil, most of them were expelled, as well as most of the Dutch settlers.[64] A group of Dutch and Portuguese Jews then moved to North America, forming a Jewish community in New Amsterdam, today's New York city, while a few of the Dutch colonists settled in the highlands in the countryside of Pernambuco known as Borborema Plateau, a region part of the ecosystem known as agreste between the coastal forest zona da mata and the semiarid sertão in the Northeast.[65][66][67][68]

Aside these military attempts, a very small number of non-Portuguese people appear to have managed to enter Brazil from European countries other than Portugal.[69]

However, in the Southern Brazilian areas disputed between Portugal and Spain, Spanish colonists largely contributed for the ethnic formation of the local population, denominated Gaúchos. A genetic research conducted by FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo) on Gaúchos from Bagé and Alegrete, in Rio Grande do Sul, Southern Brazil, revealed that they are mostly descended from Spanish ancestors, and less from Portuguese, with 52% of them having Amerindian MtDNA (similar to that found in people who live in the area of the Amazon rainforest, and significantly higher than the national average – 33% – among Brazilian whites) and 11% African MtDNA.[70] Another study also concluded that for the formation of the Gaúcho there was a predominance of Iberians, particularly Spaniards.[71] To evaluate the extension of Gaucho genetic diversity of the Gauchos, and retrieve part of their history, a study with 547 individuals, of which 278 were Native Americans (Guarani and Kaingang) and 269 admixed from the state of Rio Grande do Sul, was carried out. The genetic finding matches with the explanation of sociologist Darcy Ribeiro about the ethnic formation of the Brazilian Gaúchos: they are mostly the result of the miscegenation of Spanish and Portuguese males with Amerindian females.[72]

Another genetic study found possible relics of the 17th-century Dutch invasion in Northeastern Brazil.[73]


It was only in 1818 that the Portuguese rulers abandoned the principle of restricting settling in Brazil to Portuguese nationals. In that year over two thousand Swiss migrants from the Canton of Fribourg arrived to settle in an inhospitable area near Rio de Janeiro that would later be renamed Nova Friburgo.[74]

The arrival of German immigrants had great importance for the demographics of Southern Brazil. They founded rural communities that later became prosperous cities, as was the case of São Leopoldo, Joinville and Blumenau.[75]

The end of the slave trade (1850) and the abolition of slavery (1888) prompted the Brazilian State to promote European immigration to Brazil. The production of coffee, the main product of Brazil at the time, began to suffer a shortage of workers. From 1876, Italian immigrants began to enter Brazil in huge numbers. From 1884 to 1933, 1.4 million Italians immigrated to Brazil,[76] 70% of whom settled in São Paulo.

The period of the great immigration, between 1876 and 1930, brought to the country more than 5 million Europeans. Most were Italians and Portuguese, followed by Spaniards, Germans, Poles,[77] and Ukrainians. It is notable that most of these immigrants settled in Southern and Southeastern Brazil.

Impact of immigrationEdit

Brazilian demographers have long discussed the demographic impact of the wave of emigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. According to Judicael Clevelário,[78] most studies about the impact of immigration have followed Giorgio Mortara's conclusions in the 40's and 50's. Mortara[79] concluded that only about 19% of the demographic growth of Brazil, from 1840 and 1940 was due to immigration, and that the population of immigrant origin was of 16% of the total population of Brazil.[78]

However, according to Clevelário, Mortara failed to properly take into account the full endogenous growth of the population of immigrant origin,[80] due to the predominantly rural settlement of the immigrants (rural regions tend to have higher natality rates than cities). Clevelário, then, besides extending the calculations up to 1980, remade them, reaching somewhat different conclusions.

One of the problems of calculating the impact of immigration in Brazilian demography is that the return rates of immigrants are unknown. Clevelário, thence, supposed four different hypotheses concerning the return rates. The first, that he deems unrealistically high, is that 50% of the immigrants to Brazil returned to their countries of origin. The second is based on the work of Arthur Neiva, who supposes the return rate for Brazil was higher than that of USA (30%) but lower than that of Argentina (47%). The third hypothesis is taken from Mortara, who postulates a rate of 20% for the 19th century, 35% for the first two decades of the 20th century, and 25% for 1920 onwards. Although Mortara himself considered this hypothesis underestimated, Clevelário thinks it is the closest to reality. The last hypothesis, also admittedly unrealistic, is that of a 0% rate of return, which is known to be false.[81]

Clevelário's conclusions are as follows: considering hypothesis 1 (unrealistically high), the Population of Immigrant Origin in 1980 would be 14,730,710 people, or 12.38% of the total population. Considering hypothesis 2 (based on Neiva), it would be 17,609,052 people, or 14.60% of the total population. Considering hypothesis 3 (based on Mortara, and considered most realistic), it would be 22,088,829 people, or 18.56% of the total population. Considering hypothesis 4 (no return at all), the Population of Immigrant origin would be 29,348,423 people, or 24.66% of the total population[82]

Clevelário believes the most probable number to be close to 18%, higher than Mortara's previous estimate of 1947.[83]

According to the Census of 1872, Black and "Brown" people made up the majority (58%) of Brazil's population. The white population grew faster than the non-White population due to the subsidized immigration of Europeans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1890, the African-descended population was reduced to 47% and the Amerindian to 9%.[84] The disproportionally fast growth of the white population, due to mass immigration, lasted until 1940, when its proportion in the Brazilian population peaked at 63.5%.[84]

According to a genetic study, the European immigration to Brazil in the 19th and 20th centuries left a "strong imprint" in the genetics of the Brazilian population, leading to the "whitening" of Brazil. The massive European immigration promoted by the Brazilian government after 1872 that brought nearly 6 million Europeans in order to "whiten" the country's population had an important effect, and it manifests in a predominance (over 70%) of European ancestry in white Brazilian, as well as a large European admixture (37.1%) in Black Brazilians. The scholars divided the formation of the Brazilian population into three periods: the first when the country was inhabited only by Amerindians, who contributed for the early formation of the population; the second was during the large influx of slaves from Africa until 1850 and the third was during the large influx of European immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[85] In fact, until the mid-19th-century, white people never exceeded 30% of the population in Brazil, while Caboclos, Amerindians, Blacks and Mulattoes always predominated.[86]

Another study has pointed out that the European ancestry is dominant throughout Brazil at 80%, which means that even in the states not hit by the most recent waves of immigration, European ancestry dominates in the population as a whole. "A new portrayal of each ethnicity contribution to the DNA of Brazilians, obtained with samples from the five regions of the country, has indicated that, on average, European ancestors are responsible for nearly 80% of the genetic heritage of the population. The variation between the regions is small, with the possible exception of the South, where the European contribution reaches nearly 90%. The results, published by the scientific magazine 'American Journal of Human Biology' by a team of the Catholic University of Brasília, show that, in Brazil, physical indicators such as skin colour, colour of the eyes and colour of the hair have little to do with the genetic ancestry of each person, which has been shown in previous studies".[87]


White Brazilians are descended either from colonial settlers, who came from Portugal from 1500 to 1822, or from the diverse groups of immigrants who arrived after independence. The latter had a greater impact in the demography of the Southern states and of São Paulo.

Different from the colonists who settled in North America, who brought their entire families, the Portuguese colonization was almost exclusively composed of men, with a limited presence of women. This lack of women worried the Jesuits, who asked the Portuguese King to send any kind of Portuguese women to Brazil, even the socially undesirable (e.g. prostitutes or women with mental maladies such as Down Syndrome) if necessary.[60][61] The Crown responded by sending several groups of Iberian orphan maidens to marry both cohorts of marriageable men, the nobles and the peasants. Some of which were even primarily studying to be nuns.[60][88] The Crown also shipped over many Órfãs d'El-Rei of what was considered "good birth" to colonial Brazil to marry Portuguese settlers of high rank. Órfãs d'El-Rei (modern Portuguese órfãs do rei) literally translates to "Orphans of the King", and they were Portuguese girl orphans in nubile age.[58] There were noble and non-noble maidens and they were daughters of military compatriots who died in battle for the king or noblemen who died overseas and whose upbringing was paid by the Crown.[58] Bahia's port in the East received one of the first groups of orphans in 1551.[59] But most of the first Portuguese settlers also procreated with native Amerindians or African slave women. Over time, the number of Portuguese women immigrating to Brazil grew, but the gender imbalance was never significantly reduced. This male predominance prevailed throughout the colonial period. Historically, the male Portuguese settler preferred to marry a Portuguese born female. But, since their number in Brazil was very small, the second option was to marry a white Brazilian, born to Portuguese parents. The third option was a white Brazilian female of distant Portuguese origin. The scarce presence of white women, either Portuguese or Brazilian, caused the high degree of miscegenation in colonial Brazil.

Even though the immigration of non-Portuguese was allowed from 1818 on, the Portuguese predominance continued way up to the 1870 years. A consistent flux of German immigrants started to arrive to Southern Brazil, briefly interrupted by the Ragamuffin War, but the amount of Portuguese immigrants was much bigger during this period.

The census of 1872, counted 3,787,289 whites in Brazil. Despite the largest arrivals of European immigrants, particularly between 1880 and 1930, the nowadays white Brazilian population has a considerable proportion of citizens that are still mainly descended from whites of colonial extraction (Lusitanians but also Spaniards, Dutch, French, Anusim and others), especially those groups in the Northeast, the borders of Rio Grande do Sul with Argentina and Uruguay, and the Center-West, with the exception of Mato Grosso do Sul, partially populated by Italian, German and Polish farmers from São Paulo and the South, just like the case of Brasiguaios, Brazilian landowners in Paraguay.[89][90][91]

South American oligarchies, which remained predominantly of European origin, believed – in syntony with the racialist theories then widespread in Europe – that the large numbers of blacks and mixed Amerindians that made up the majority of the population were a handicap to the development of their countries. As a result, countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil started to encourage the arrival of European immigrants, in order to make the white population grow and to dilute the African and Amerindian blood in their population. Argentina even has an article in its Constitution prohibiting any attempt to prevent the entry of European immigrants in the country.[92] In the case of Brazil, the immigrants started arriving in huge numbers during the 1880s. From 1886 to 1900, almost 1.4 million Europeans arrived, of whom over 900,000 were Italians. During this period of 14 years, Brazil received more Europeans than during the over 300 years of colonization.

According to Darcy Ribeiro before 1850 no more than 500,000 Europeans settled in Brazil[93] IBGE estimated that the number was close to 700,000 Portuguese during the 18th century.[55] The mass European immigration to Brazil only started in the second half of the 19th century, from 1850 to 1970 over 6 million Europeans arrived, because of three main reasons:

  • to "whiten" Brazil, since the Amerindian and African elements predominated in the population, a fact that was considered a problem by the local elite, that considered these races inferior. Bringing European immigrants was seen as a way to "improve" the racial composition of the local population;
  • to populate inhospitable areas of Brazil, mostly the Southern provinces;
  • to replace African manpower, since the Atlantic slave trade was effectively suppressed in 1850 and coffee plantations were spreading in the region of São Paulo.

These immigrants had a larger and more visible impact in the state of São Paulo, along with the three southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná. In the southern states there were entire regions (such as the Serra Gaúcha and Vale do Jacuí) populated by German and Italian-speaking inhabitants. The immigrants remained closed in ethnic communities for decades. The Portuguese language only started to be used by these communities many decades after their arrival, as a result of their contact with Brazilians and with immigrants from other countries, but also because of the forced assimilation during the Getúlio Vargas's government, mostly inside the German community. In contrast to the early Portuguese colonists, these immigrants arrived with their entire families in Brazil, with large numbers of women and children. As a result, the areas where they were concentrated, most remarkably the central parts of Southern Brazil, became predominantly white.

In São Paulo, paulistas of Italian descent outnumbered those of earlier extraction. In this region, Italians, Portuguese, Spaniards and Arabs were easily integrated, since they had a close contact with the large local Brazilian population. At first working on coffee farms, later they moved to cities and participated in the process of industrialization of Brazil.

Regions of settlementEdit

The first economic activity the Portuguese crown devised in Brazil—the collection of Brazilwood—was not conducive to an actual occupation of the territory.[citation needed] The establishment of a few "feitorias" that conducted the trade was not enough to populate Brazil.[citation needed] The growing competition from other colonial powers—especially France—led the Portuguese into finding other economic activities that could serve as a base for a permanent and solid integration of Brazil into Portuguese domains. The first such activity to attain success was the cultivation of sugarcane—and the associated extraction of sugar, since sugarcane could not be transported overseas without deteriorating.[citation needed] This activity was also complementary with the slave trade that the Portuguese were starting, at that moment, from their African colonies of Angola and Mozambique. Sugarcane proved very well adapted to the climate of the Northeastern litoral, so the first stable and prosperous Portuguese settlements—and consequently, the first stable and prosperous centers of white population in Brazil—where located in that region.[citation needed]

The economy of sugarcane culture being centered in exporting to Portugal, other economic activities appeared to fulfill the necessities of the region. Remarkably, husbandry spread into the arid hinterland, where it remained the most important economic activity for centuries.[citation needed]

The region around São Vicente, in modern São Paulo state, remained less developed, with a weaker integration to the colonial economy. This probably prompted the inhabitants to explore the hinterland. In theory looking for gold and gems, in practice they engaged in expeditions with the objective of capturing and enslaving Amerindians. These slaves were used in the incipient agriculture around São Paulo, which, to the end of the 16th century became specialised in wheat, as a commercial crop that could be sold in other parts of Brazil.[94]

Around 1700, the paulistas found gold in the region that is now Minas Gerais.[citation needed] Together with the growing competition of Caribbean sugar, this made the center of the Brazilian economy move to the Southwest. The administrative center of the colony was moved from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro. The discovery of mineral wealth caused the influx of Portuguese settlers to redirect from the Northeast to the mining region, and the number of Portuguese leaving for Brazil to increase greatly; also there was a change in the social profile of those coming to Brazil. Agriculture needed substantial investments, but gold mining required much more courage and less initial capital, and the proportion of poor Portuguese among the newcomers increased considerably.[citation needed]

The Southern region was also first settled by the paulistas.[citation needed] Arriving there in search of the Amerindians in the Jesuit reductions, they subsequently raided the region in search of the cattle gone astray with the destruction of the Missões, first for the leather, then organising a commercial circuit that moved cattle on feet to the mining region (ciclo do gado a pé). As a result, the Portuguese domain extended firmly to the south, threatening the control of the Northern bank of the Plata by the Spanish.[citation needed]


Italian immigrants arriving in São Paulo (c. 1890)

Most of the 6.831.000 European immigrants that entered the country between 1821 and 1932 settled in São Paulo (state) and other Southeastern states:[95] São Paulo received most of the Italians (Veneto, Lombardy, Campania, Tuscany, Calabria, Liguria, Piedmont, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna, Abruzzi e Molise and Basilicata) and Spaniards (Galicians, Castilians and Catalans) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and from the 1910s on most of the Lithuanians, Dutch, French, Hungarians, Baltic Finns, Ashkenazi Jews (from Poland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia and Czechoslovakia), Latvians, Greeks, Armenians, Czech, Croatians, Slovenians, Bulgarians, Albanians and Georgians;[96][97][98][99][100][101][102][103][104][105][106][107] Rio de Janeiro (state) received most of the Portuguese immigrants followed by SP, as well as most of the Swiss and Belgians. Together with São Paulo and Santa Catarina, RJ was one of the main destinations for Swedes, Norwegians, Danes but also French and received the second largest number of Jews after SP. São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro followed by Paraná also received most of the English-Welsh and Scots;[98][101][108][109][110][111][112] The countryside of Espírito Santo was mainly populated by people arriving from Germany, especially Pomeranians (Prussia), Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Luxembourg, France, Romania, Slovakia and Iberia, comprising chiefly Catalans but including Basques and Andorrans.[99][102][107][113][114] Minas Gerais received generally Italians, looking for arable acreage in the 19th century, and Portugueses early in the 18th during the Gold and Diamond Rush.[98] MG was also destination for Germans, Czech, Bulgarians, Romanians, Hungarians, Ashkenazi Jews, Spaniards, Serbians, Greeks, Armenians and part of the additional 170k Lebanese who settled the country.[106][114][115][116]

Italian immigrants in the Hospedaria dos Imigrantes, in São Paulo, current Memorial do Imigrante
Students and teachers at a German school in Blumenau, 1866
Downtown Blumenau

However, the impact of the European immigration was larger in Southern Brazil, because even though it got a lesser migration, since it had a very small population, the immigration's impact was greater to its demography when compared to other Brazilian regions. The main concentrations in Rio Grande do Sul were Venetian Italians where their dialect is still spoken and Germans from the Hunsrück region of Germany (Rhineland-Palatinate) who also kept their Hunsrückisch dialect known as Riograndensisch, followed by Poles. Their arriving numbers supplanted the previous Iberian population, founding cities like Novo Hamburgo and Garibaldi.[102][107][117] German immigrants first arrived in 1824 settling in the Sinos River Valley, where one of the first colonies to take an urbanized figure was Hamburger Berg, future Novo Hamburgo, dismembered from or spun out of São Leopoldo, dubbed the cradle of German culture in Brazil.[118] Its capital, Porto Alegre, has the third largest Jewish population in the nation.[119] The vast majority of Slavs is concentrated in Paraná, mainly Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Russians, followed by German and Italian dwellers in the countryside who also arrived to populate the sparsely inhabited South. Some localities like Mallet, a 19th-century settlement founded by Poles from Austrian Galicia (Eastern Europe) and Ukrainians that grew up to be a town, still maintain both their languages and traditions in a Polish-Ukrainian continuum. After 1909 Dutch settlers became accountable for the dairy farming development in the prairies region of the state, known as Campos Gerais do Paraná, where today are the towns of Castro and Carambeí dubbed Little Holland. The Castro region also received many Lithuanians. The capital, Curitiba, is home to a large figure of Volga Germans that outnumbered the initial and primary Bandeirante descent population during the Imperial period, Faroese people and other Scandinavians, as well as to Slavs, Italians, French, Swiss, Spaniards and one of the country's Jewish communities.[98][102][106][107][117][120][121][122] Santa Catarina where over 50% of the population has German, Austrian and Luxembourgish ancestry (the local Hunsrückisch is known as Katharinensisch,[123] Pomeranian is still spoken in the town of Pomerode and Southern Austro-Bavarian by the Tyrolean population in Treze Tílias) was also the main destination for Danes and the state that was sparsely populated and had its shore mainly inhabited by Azoreans in the 18th century (e.g. Laguna born Anita Garibaldi, wife and comrade-in-arms of Italian Unification revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi), also received Italians, French, Swedes, Norwegians, Swiss, Lithuanians and Latvians, Estonians, Finns, Poles, Slovenians, Croatians, Belgians and Spaniards to populate its interior during the 19th century. The town of Brusque founded by Austrian Baron von Schneeburg bringing German families from the Grand Duchy of Baden to settle in the northeast of Santa Catarina, besides receiving additional waves of Italians from the Tyrol–South Tyrol–Trentino Euroregion, Poles and Swedes, was also one of the destinations in the South and Southeast for American Confederate settlers in 1867, differing from São Paulo and Paraná colonies, where the American Confederate presence gave birth to new towns such as Americana in São Paulo. Neighboring towns such as Nova Trento founded in 1875, similarly received subjects from the Austro-Hungarian Empire due the fact that Italian-speaking Tyroleans known as trentinos and Germans from the Kingdom of Prussia, historic Swabia and Baden faced an immense crisis in the agricultural sector caused by the conflicts of the unification of Italy and Germany respectively, that weakened local trade. Istrian Italians under the Austrian Empire rule also fled Istria to settle in Brazil, and a few towns like Nova Veneza, founded in 1891 still have an over 90% Venetian population of which many still speak the Talian dialect. Most Venetians settled after the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866, when Venice, along with the rest of the Veneto, became part of the newly created Kingdom of Italy.[98][101][102][107][114][117][124][125]

Some southern Brazilian towns with a notable main ancestry
Town name State Main ancestry Percentage
Nova Veneza Santa Catarina Italian 95%[126]
Pomerode Santa Catarina German 90%[127]
Prudentópolis Paraná Ukrainian 70%[128]
Treze Tílias Santa Catarina Austrian 60%[129]
Dom Feliciano Rio Grande do Sul Polish 90%[130]

The Europeanization was so longed that by 1895 the government of São Paulo spent about 15% of its annual budget on subsidies for immigrants.[131]

Monument to the immigrant in Caxias do Sul. "The Brazilian nation to the immigrant" (Portuguese: A nação brasileira ao imigrante) is read at the bottom.


Portuguese kids waiting for a ship to leave for Brazil (early 20th century)

After independence in 1822, about 1.79 million Portuguese immigrants arrived in Brazil, most of them in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[132] Most of these immigrants settled in Rio de Janeiro.[98]

Portuguese immigration into Brazil in the 19th and 20th centuries was marked by its concentration in the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo. The immigrants opted mostly for urban centers. Portuguese women appeared with some regularity among immigrants, with percentage variation in different decades and regions of the country. However, even among the influx of Portuguese immigrants at the turn of the 20th century, there were 319 men to each 100 women among them.[133] The Portuguese were different from other immigrants in Brazil, like the Germans,[134] or Italians[135] who brought many women along with them (even though the proportion of men was higher in any immigrant community). Despite the smaller female proportion, Portuguese men married mainly Portuguese women. Female immigrants rarely married Brazilian men. In this context, the Portuguese had a rate of endogamy which was higher than any other European immigrant community, and behind only the Japanese among all immigrants.[136]

An additional figure of 1.2 million Portuguese arrived between 1951 and 1975 to settle mostly in the Southeast.[137] Nowadays, Lusitanians constitute the biggest group of foreigners living in the country, with over 690,000 Portuguese nationals currently living in Brazil.[138] The vast majority arrived in the last decade. The first semester of 2011 solely had an increase of 52 thousand Portuguese nationals applying for a permanent residence visa while another large group was granted Brazilian citizenship.[139][140]


Italians going to Brazil by ship (1910)

About 1.64 million Italians arrived in Brazil, starting in 1875.[141] First they settled as small land owners in rural communities across Southern Brazil. In the late 19th century, the Brazilian State offered land to immigrants, in conditions that made it possible to buy them.[142] Later, their destination were mostly the coffee plantations in the Southeast, especially the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, where they initially worked for the local landowners, either for a wage or under a contract that allowed them to use a portion of land for subsistency, in exchange for labour in the plantation.[143]

Italians made up the main group of immigrants to Brazil in the late 19th century.[101]

The vast majority of the Italian settlers came from Veneto and, according to Ethnologue, today around 4 million people still speak the Venetian dialect called Talian or Veneto in Southern Brazil.[144] Veneto was followed mainly by Campania, Lombardy, Calabria, Abruzzi e Molise, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna.[96]

In São Paulo capital, which came to be labeled an "Italian city" in the early twentieth century, Italians engaged mainly in the incipient industry and urban services activities. They came to represent 90% of the 60,000 workers employed in São Paulo factories in 1901.[145]


About 720,000 Spaniards came to Brazil, starting in the late 19th century.[132] Most of them were attracted to work in the coffee plantations in the State of São Paulo.[98]

In all Brazilian states, the immigrants from Galicia predominated, and those were predominantly males, who emigrated alone, settled in urban centers and paid for their passage by ship.[146] The only exception was the state of São Paulo, destination for the vast majority of the Spaniards, between 66% and 75% of the total. In São Paulo, 55% were from Andaluzia, and only 23% from Galicia.[146] Those had their passage by ship paid by the Brazilian government, emigrated in families and were taken to the coffee farms for the needed manpower. Galician smallholders and artisans settled mainly in urban areas of Brazil and eventually became factory workers.[147] One factor that contributed to the more rapid process of assimilation and acculturation of the community of Spanish origin in Brazil was, in addition to linguistic and cultural proximity (accentuated by the high presence of Galicians whose Galician language is closer to Portuguese due the fact that they share or belong to the same linguistic system, differently from Castilian), the ease with which both Spanish men and women married Brazilians, mostly Lusitanian Brazilians: 64.7% of Spanish men married Brazilian women and 47.2% of Spanish women married Brazilian men.[146]

Germans and AustriansEdit

Brazil is home to the second largest German-Austrian population outside their respective nations, after the USA. And German is the second most spoken language in the country.[4][148][149] According to Ethnologue, Standard German is spoken by 1.5 million people and Brazilian German encompass assorted dialects, including Riograndenser Hunsrückisch spoken by over 3 million Brazilians.[9][150][151] Today more speakers of the East Pomeranian dialect can be found in Brazil than its original Low German-speaking land, and the dialect is especially spoken in Pomerode, Santa Catarina as well as in the states of Espírito Santo and Rio Grande do Sul where it enjoys co-official status.[12] Other dialects include Luxembourgish (part of the Moselle Franconian dialects group together with Hunsrik), Swiss Alemannic, Low Saxon–rooted Plautdietsch, spoken by ethnic German Mennonites from the former Soviet Union (since the 1930s),[13][14] Southern Austro-Bavarian, Tyrol dialect and Vorarlberg High Alemannic German, especially in Dreizehnlinden, Santa Catarina (since 1933),[15] and Danube Swabian in Guarapuava, Paraná (since 1951).[19]

The author Stefan Zweig who wrote about Brazil, and the Habsburg-Lorraine Maria Leopoldina of Austria, Empress consort of Brazil, are among the most prominent Austrians to settle in Brazil.

About 260,000 Germans settled in Brazil.[152] They were the fourth largest nationality to immigrate to Brazil, after the Portuguese (1.8 million), the Italians (1.6 million), the Spaniards (0.72 million); Germans were followed by the Japanese (248,000), the Poles and the Russians.[152]

The vast majority settled in states of São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, and Rio de Janeiro. Less than 5% of Germans settled in Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, and Espírito Santo.[153]

The most influenced state by the German immigration was Santa Catarina, where Germans and Austrians were about 50% of all foreigners (Germans, 40%; Austrians, 10%), it was the only state where Germans were the principal nationality among foreigners. Other states with some significant proportion were Rio Grande do Sul (Germans, slightly over 25%) and Paraná (Germans, 10%; Austrians, 10%).[154] The Oktoberfest of Blumenau in Santa Catarina is Brazil's largest and the world's second largest (after Germany's main beer festival in Munich).[155]

Endogamy was the rule among the 19th-century German, Austrian and Luxembourgish colonies and young married women in the homogeneously isolated German colonies settled in the three Southern states had a high fertility rate of 8-9 children per woman; that was especially the case for those youths married between 20 and 24 years old.[114]

In Rio Grande do Sul, the House of Representatives recognized Hunsrückisch as an official Intangible cultural heritage of historical value to be preserved.[156][157]


Poles came in significant numbers to Brazil after 1870. Most of them settled in the State of Paraná, working as small farmers.[106][120][121] From 1872 to 1919, 110,243 "Russian" citizens entered Brazil. In fact, the vast majority of them were Poles ("Russian" Catholics), since, up to 1917, a part of Poland was under Russian rule due to the Partitions of Poland and ethnic Poles immigrated with Russian passports.[158]

Polish can still be heard in small towns such as Mallet, Paraná, where the vast majority of the population descends from Western and Northern Slavic settlers who arrived in Brazil in the 1890s (mostly Poles who came from Galicia which was under Austrian rule then).[7][8][9][121]

The city of Curitiba has the second largest Polish diaspora in the world (after Chicago) and Polish music, dishes and culture are quite common in the region.[107] Curitiba was largely influenced by the Polish descent mayor Jaime Lerner, originally an architect and urban planner.

Polish house in Paraná


The Swiss colony of Nova Friburgo in Rio de Janeiro's mountain range during the 1820s

In 1818, King John VI of Portugal, then resident in Rio de Janeiro, authorized the entry into Brazil of Swiss immigrants from the canton of Fribourg (Switzerland). The parish founded in 1819 was given the name of "São João Batista de Nova Friburgo" (Saint John the Baptist of New Fribourg), German: Neufreiburg.[159]


An estimated 80,000 Brazilians are of Luxembourgian descent due to a small immigration of Luxembourgers to Brazil, mostly during the late 19th an early 20th centuries.[160][161]


More than 20,000 Ukrainians came to Brazil between 1895 and 1897, settling mostly in the countryside of Paraná and working as farmers in the state, today a land of regnant Orthodox churches, where Slavic traditions can be witnessed all over the territory[120][122][162]

Brazilians of Ukrainian descent celebrating Easter in Curitiba

Dutch (Netherlands) and FlemishEdit

Windmill De immigrant in Castro. Dutch windmills are found in Paraná and São Paulo

Dutch people first settled in Brazil during the 17th century, with the state of Pernambuco being a colony of the Dutch Republic from 1630 to 1661.[67] During the 19th and 20th century, immigrants from the Netherlands populated the central and southern states of Brazil.[163][164] The first Dutch immigrants to South America after its independence waves from their metropoles went to the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo between 1858 and 1862, where they founded the settlement of Holanda, a colony of 500 mainly Reformed folk from West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen in the Dutch province of Zeeland.[99] Dutch and other Low Franconian languages are still spoken in São Paulo (state), especially Holambra (named after Holland-America-Brazil), famous for its tulips and the annual Expoflora event, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and around Ponta Grossa, Castrolanda and Carambeí known as little Holland, in the plains of Paraná, headquarters of several food companies and a dairy farming region.[9][120]

Most Belgian settlements took place in Southern and Southeastern Brazil. Among the Flemish colonies are Itajaí (Santa Catarina - 1845), Porto Feliz (São Paulo - 1888), Taubaté (São Paulo – 1889),[165] and Botucatu (São Paulo - 1960). Many Belgians also preferred to establish their lives in urban centers such as Rio de Janeiro capital.

French and WalloonsEdit

Between 1850 and 1965 around 100,000 French people immigrated to Brazil. The country received the second largest number of French immigrants to South America after Argentina (239,000). It is estimated that there are 1.2 million Brazilians of French and Walloon descent today.[166][167]

Scandinavian countriesEdit

Haakon Lorentzen, son of Norwegian businessman Erling Sven Lorentzen (of the Lorentzen family) and Princess Ragnhild of Norway (from the House of Glücksburg)

Brazil is home to the largest Scandinavian population (Germanic Nordic countries) in Latin America, with a majority of Norwegian descendants.[168][169]

The relations between Brazil and Sweden are rooted in the family ties of the Brazilian and the Swedish Royal Families and in the Swedish emigration to Brazil in the end of the 19th century. The wife of King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway, Queen Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, was sister to Amélie of Leuchtenberg, wife of Emperor Pedro I of Brazil. Diplomatic relations between Brazil and Sweden were established in 1826. During the mid to late 19th century many Scandinavians arrived in Brazil, particularly to the southern states as well as Rio de Janeiro, which features a Scandinavian Association,[170] and São Paulo, where the Scandinavian church is based.


Brazil was among the main destinations for Russian refugees during the 20th century.[171] Fernando Lázaro de Barros Basto in Síntese da história da imigração no Brasil(1970) gives a total number of 319,215 immigrants from "Russia" (i.e. the Russian Empire pre-1917 and the Soviet Union post-1917) for the period of 1871 to 1968.

Balts (Lithuanians and Latvians)Edit

Impressionist, expressionist and modernist painter, engraver and sculptor Lasar Segall

Brazil is home to the largest Baltic diaspora outside their original land, especially Lithuanian descendants. Their migration peaked in 1920s and 1930s, when 35% of all emigrants from interwar Lithuania chosen Brazil as their destination, around 50 000 moved in.[16][106][172] Besides Lithuanians, the Baltic diaspora also comprises one of the largest Latvian populations.[106][173][174]

The first Lithuanians to set foot on Brazil in the 19th century had as their destination the newly established colony of Ijuí, situated on the red and fertile soil of the northwestern part of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, while most Lithuanians and Latvians would settle in São Paulo posteriorly. Besides São Paulo, other states that received Baltic people during the 20th century were Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Santa Catarina and Espírito Santo. Lettish is still spoken in Santa Catarina and Paraná.

Today, the state of São Paulo is home to the majority of the Lithuanian Brazilians, and its capital hosts the only true Lithuanian neighborhood in South America - Vila Zelina. Its construction was carried out ~1927 when Lithuanian immigration was peaking. The district is centered around Republic of Lithuania Plaza (Praça República Lituânia), where 7 streets meet up (one of them named after a Lithuanian priest Pijus Ragažinskas (Pio Ragazinskas, 1907-1988) who started the only Lithuanian-Brazilian newspaper "Mūsų Lietuva"). Liberty statue (1977) that crowns the Plaza center is modelled after the one in Kaunas, Lithuania (that original symbol of interwar Lithuanian freedom had been pulled down by Soviets in 1950, making its reconstruction in communism-free São Paulo even more symbolic). It bears the inscription "Lietuviais esame gimę, lietuviais turime būt" ("Lithuanians we are born, Lithuanians we must be") - lyrics of a traditional patriotic song. They are joined by Columns of Gediminas, a symbol of the famous Gediminid dynasty (1315-1572) which brought the medieval Grand Duchy of Lithuania to its glory as the Europe's largest state. There's also a Lithuanian church facing the square.[172]

Nationalities of Uralic languages (Finns, Hungarians and Estonians)Edit

Eva Todor born Éva Fodor in 1919, Budapest

Brazil is home to a large population of European peoples who speak Uralic languages. Mostly Hungarians and Finns, followed by an Estonian minority of Finnic language, who also composes the Baltic Finns group.[103][106]

Most Hungarian descendants live in São Paulo, where there are several Hungarian associations. Hungarians have two institutions with legal personality: the Brazilian-Hungarian Aid Association and the Brazilian-Hungarian Cultural Association; and both own the auditorium Hungarian House. The Kálmán Könyves Free University is another organization to form the additional group.[104]

Penedo, a small town located near Itatiaia National Park, was the first Finnish colony to be established in Brazil. Finnish architecture, cuisine and traditional customs such as saunas, are still present and able to be witnessed.[175][176][177]

British and IrishEdit

John Pascoe Grenfell spent most of his service in South America campaigns.

The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373 was signed between King Edward III of England and King Ferdinand and Queen Eleanor of Portugal. It established a treaty of "perpetual friendships, unions [and] alliances" between the two seafaring nations. It is the oldest active treaty in the world. The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance is visible when on 23 June 1661 the marriage treaty between King Charles II and Catherine of Bragança was duly signed. In return for Bombay, Tangier, free trade with Brazil and the East Indies acquired as the princess' dowry, England offered military assistance to help protect Portugal from Spain. Other noticeable occasions were during the Napoleonic Wars when the Portuguese royal family moved to Brazil with the help of the English fleet and the Portuguese assistance to England during the First War.[178]

British immigration to Brazil can be divided into four main periods: colonial, monarchical, Old Republic and the 1960s/1970s. Most of the oldest capitals in Brazil possess colonial Anglican cemeteries or English cemeteries.[179] And a group of Scottish religious dissidents established a colony in the northeast of Brazil during the colonial period. After Brazil was promoted to kingdom, the 19th century witnessed a new wave of British citizens settling in the country, since England had special trading privileges with the nation.[109] English were responsible for most of the railways, public lighting and urban transportation like trams and Irish worked as manual workers in constructions such as the Madeira-Mamoré Railway in the rainforest.[110][180][181] There were also English nationals in the financial system.[111] The Anglo-Scots-Brazilian Charles William Miller is celebrated for making football popular in Brazil and deemed as the father of Brazilian football.[182] Oscar Cox and his sibling Edwin, both children of an English diplomat, are also praised for pioneering football in Brazil and introducing the sport especially to the city of Rio de Janeiro during the 1900s.[183] Oscar organized the first football match in the history of the state of Rio de Janeiro in 1901 and then proceeded to São Paulo, with his select team, to play against the squad led by Charles Miller, who had started the process of disseminating football in São Paulo back in 1894.[184] Even though the sport had been played in an informal manner since the 1870s by British, Dutch and French sailors, as well as by European immigrants, Miller's merit lays in the fact that he arrived in Brazil with the necessary apparatus for the organized practice of football, being the first team manager, and consolidating it within sports clubs by captivating the public, considering that the then British-Brazilians and other citizens of the period were more accustomed to cricket.[185][186] Bertha Lutz was a Brazilian zoologist, politician, and diplomat born in 1894. Lutz, whose mother was a British nurse and father a Swiss-Brazilian pioneering physician and epidemiologist, became a leading figure in both the Pan American feminist movement fighting for women's suffrage and human rights movement. The 1960s and 1970s also saw new waves of English, Welsh and Scottish nationals, especially youths, immigrating to Brazil.[187][188]

Americans (United States)Edit

Confederate immigrants Joseph Whitaker and Isabel Norris

At the end of the American Civil War in the 1860s, a migration of Confederates to Brazil began, with the total number of immigrants estimated in the thousands. They settled primarily in Southern and Southeastern Brazil founding many towns in the state of São Paulo: Americana, Campinas, Santa Bárbara d'Oeste, Juquiá, New Texas, Eldorado (former Xiririca) as well as moving to the capital São Paulo.[189] The bordering state of Paraná was the main destination in the South, followed by Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, where Americans arrived in 1867 settling in growing towns such as Brusque. The city of Rio de Janeiro, the town of Rio Doce in Minas Gerais and the state of Espírito Santo were other destinations in the Southeast region. Later waves settled in Santarém, Pará—in the north of the Amazon River—as well as in the states of Bahia and Pernambuco, adding a significant number of immigrants to the region's population. Altogether, close to 25,000 American immigrants settled in Brazil during the 19th century. That is one of the main reasons why emperor Dom Pedro II was the first foreign Chief of State and Head of Government to visit Washington, D.C. in 1876 and also attended the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.[190] The first Confederado recorded was Colonel William H. Norris, a former senator of Alabama who left the U.S. with 30 Confederate families and arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 27 December 1865.[191] The colony at Santa Bárbara D'Oeste is sometimes called the Norris Colony. The New Texas colony's leader, Frank McMullen, also left the U.S. in 1865 with former citizens of the Confederacy.[192][193][194] Ethnically the Confederados cultural sub-group, the way how the Confederate colonies were named, were primally Scottish, English-Welsh, Irish, Scandinavian, Dutch and German, (ethnic Germans among Romanian, Czech, Russian and Polish immigrant descendants).[189] More recently, other waves of American nationals became residents in the country.

Pérola Ellis Byington (Pearl) born in 1879 to the American immigrants Mary Elisabeth Ellis and Robert Dickson McIntyre in Santa Bárbara D'Oeste and married to the industrialist Alberto Jackson Byington, was an accoladed educator, social activist, philanthropist and volunteer for the American and Brazilian Red Cross, who had hospitals and a town in Paraná named after her.[195][196][197] Other famous Brazilians who descend from American immigrants are the former Chief Justice of Brazil Ellen Gracie Northfleet, first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court; Warwick Estevam Kerr, a geneticist, agricultural engineer, entomologist, professor and scientific leader, notable for his discoveries in the genetics and sex determination of bees; and the singer Rita Lee Jones, dubbed "the mother of Brazilian rock'n'roll".

Levantine ArabsEdit

Brazil has the largest Lebanese and Syrian population outside the Levant region, Christians in the great majority.[198][199] There were many causes for Arabs to leave their homelands in the Ottoman Empire; overpopulation in Lebanon, conscription in Lebanon and Syria, and religious persecution by the Ottoman Turks.

Ashkenazi and Sephardi JewsEdit

Actor Dan Stulbach

Brazil is also home to one of the top 10 largest Jewish diasporas on Earth, most of them of Ashkenazi background but also Sephardi Jews included. Brazil figures on the diasporas list together with Argentina, and São Paulo has one of the largest Jewish populations by urban area on the planet. Ashkenazi Jews first arrived during Imperial times, when the liberal second emperor of Brazil welcomed a few thousands of families facing persecution in Europe during the 1870s and 1880s.[65] Two heavier influxes took place during the 20th century. The earliest right after the Great War and the second inrush between the 1930s and 1950s.[107][65] Anusim or Portuguese and Dutch Marrano Crypto Jews can be found in every one of the 5 geographical regions, but are most common in the Northeast, with Pernambuco having one of the largest Converso populations due to colonial history. Brazil has the oldest synagogue in the Americas founded during Dutch Brazil rule, Kahal Zur Israel Synagogue, located in Recife.[66] Erected in 1636, its foundations have been recently rediscovered, and the 20th-century buildings on the site have been altered to resemble a 17th-century Dutch synagogue. There is now a museum on the site praising it as one of the oldest synagogues in the world. After the Dutch defeat, part of those Jews moved to North America, settling in New Amsterdam, Dutch colony that would become today's New York.[66][67] They founded in New Amsterdam the oldest Jewish congregation in the USA, the Congregation Shearith Israel.

The capital of São Paulo together with the satellite city of Campinas in the metropolitan area has the greatest number of Jews in the country,[100] followed by Rio de Janeiro capital[112] and Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul.[119] Other state capitals in the nation that figure among the largest Jewish communities are Curitiba in Paraná,[200][201] Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais,[1][201] Recife,[66] the national capital Brasília in the Federal District,[202] Belém,[1][201] Manaus[201] and Florianópolis.[203][204][205][206]

In August 2004, the mayor of São Paulo, a metropolis home to 77,000 Jews, declared her city a sister city with Tel Aviv. Mayor Marta Smith Suplicy said the new status would strengthen ties between both Brazilians and Israelis. Suplicy, who had recently married a Jew, added that the new status would be a kickoff for urban, cultural, scientific, tourist and economic programs.[65]

The Anti-Defamation League and other Israeli/Jewish papers and surveys placed Brazil among the least anti-semitic nations in the Americas and Western Hemisphere (i.e., Western Europe and Western world), which subsequently means among the least anti-semitic ones on the planet.[207][208] And Jewish Brazilian personalities stated in a jocose form that the only threat they face is assimilation by marriage with Christians or non-religious descendants of Christian Europeans, Levantine Arabs and East Asians.[209][65] Intermarriage between Jews and Christian European descendants might have an even higher rate than in the US.[65]


Greek immigration to Brazil can be divided into three periods. The first Greek families arrived during the monarchical period in the 19th century, followed by two larger influxes: the period right after the break of the Great War in 1914 and prolonged until the 1930s, and the final one right after WW2, with most Greeks settling in São Paulo.[210][211][212]

Position in Brazilian societyEdit

Whites constitute the majority of Brazil's population regarding the total numbers within a single racial group. The country has the second largest white population in the Americas in absolute numbers and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. The white-Brazilian population constitute the third largest white population in the world within a nation in absolute numbers, after the United States and Russia.[1][213][214]

Whites are the most successful ethnic group in Brazilian society. Whites dominate Brazilian arts, business and science. Overall, whites constitute 86.3% of the group among the 1% richest population of Brazil as of 2007.[215] They majority of among the representatives of the 20 largest companies in Brazil are white. These companies include likes of Petrobrás, Oi telecommunications, Ambev and Gerdau and Braskem groups, and according to the Valor 1000 ranking from 2014, 95% of these representatives declare themselves as white, 5% declare themselves as pardos and none declared for blacks or Asians.[216] The most successful Brazilian entrepreneurs have historically been white. Jorge Paulo Lemann, an investor and the child of Swiss immigrants, is ranked as the 19th richest person in the world by Forbes, with an estimated net worth of US$38.7 billion. Eduardo Saverin is the Co-founder of Facebook, one of the world's wealthiest companies, and most powerful social media platforms, was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil.[217]

Whites dominate Brazilian fashion. Gisele Bundchen has been the highest paid model in the world for 10 years. With a reported net worth of $290 million, she is widely recognized as the poster child for Brazilian fashion models, being the first ‘breakthrough’ model from Brazil.[217] Alessandra Ambrosio is most famous for being a Victoria's Secret and ‘PINK’ model. Earning an estimated $6.6 million per annum. Alexandre Herchcovitch is a well-known fashion designer in the Paris, London, New York and Tokyo circuits.

Xuxa Meneghel, a television presenter, film actress, singer and successful businesswoman born in Rio Grande do Sul, has the highest net worth of any Brazilian female entertainer, estimated at US$350 million.[218][219][220][221][222]

Whites also dominate the sciences and academics. According to a Folha University Ranking, among the rectors and vice-chancellors of the 25 top universities, 89.8% are white; 8.2% are pardos and 2% are black and none as Asian.

In the world of Brazilian sports, some of the most successful Brazilian athletes have been white. Ayrton Senna was among the most dominant and successful Formula One drivers of the modern era and is considered by many as the greatest racing driver of all time.[223][224] Robert Scheidt is one of the most successful sailors at Olympic Games[225] and one of the most successful Brazilian Olympic athletes.[226] Zico, the world's best football player of the late 1970s and early 80s.[227] Others include, Gustavo Kuerten, the only Brazilians tennis player to be ranked nr 1,[228][229] César Cielo the most successful Brazilian swimmer in history, having obtained three Olympic medals. Oscar Schmidt, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.[230] The Brazil men's national volleyball team is the most successful volleyball team in the world and is mostly white (Gustavo Endres, Giba, André Heller, Murilo Endres), and many others.

Among women Maria Esther Bueno is the most successful Brazilian tennis player at the Grand Slam tournaments. She won seven single titles (four wins at the US Open and three at Wimbledon) and twelve doubles titles (five at Wimbledon, four at the US Open, two in the Roland Garros, including a mixed doubles, and once at the Australian Open).[231][232]


   – States with high or strong white proportion
   – States with high or strong Pardo (Multiracial) proportion

By stateEdit

Brazilian states according to the percentage of whites in 2009

The Brazilian states with the highest percentages of whites are the three located in the South of the country: Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná. These states, along with São Paulo, received an important influx of European immigrants in the period of the Great Immigration (1876–1914).

  1. Santa Catarina: 88.96% white[253]
  2. Rio Grande do Sul: 85.30%
  3. Paraná: 79.24%
  4. São Paulo: 73.40%
  5. Rio de Janeiro: 58.82%
  6. Mato Grosso do Sul: 56.78%
  7. Espírito Santo: 50.45%
  8. Minas Gerais: 47.24%
  9. Goiás: 43.60%[24][25]

The Brazilian states with the lowest percentages of whites are located in the North, where there is a strong Amerindian influence in the population's racial composition, and in part of the Northeast, notably in Bahia and Maranhão, where African influence is stronger.[254]

  1. Amapá: 24.03%
  2. Bahia: 23.60%
  3. Pará: 23.30%
  4. Amazonas: 22.39%
  5. Roraima: 22.13% White
Source: IBGE 2000[255]

States with high absolute numbers:

  1. São Paulo: 30,976,877 Whites
  2. Minas Gerais: 9,019,164
  3. Rio Grande do Sul: 8,973,928
  4. Rio de Janeiro: 8,513,778
  5. Paraná: 7,620,982
  6. Santa Catarina: 5,297,900
  7. Pernambuco: 3,151,550
  8. Ceará: 2,883,000
  9. Bahia: 2,864,000
  10. Goiás: 2,618,000
  11. Espírito Santo: 1,835,000
  12. Mato Grosso: 1,179,000
  13. Mato Grosso do Sul: 1,157,000

The nation's capital, Brasília, in the Federal District has 1,084,418 white citizens.[24][26]

Federative Units White Population 1940(%)[256] White Population 2009(%)[257]
Santa Catarina 94,4% 88,9%
Rio Grande do Sul 88,7% 85,3%
Paraná 86,6% 79,2%
São Paulo 84,9% 73,4%
Goiás 72,1% 40,1%
Rio de Janeiro (city) 71,1%* (in the then Federal District*) 55,0%* (in Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro*)
Espírito Santo 67,5% 44,2%
Minas Gerais 64,2% 47,2%
Rio de Janeiro (state) 63,8% 58,8%
Alagoas 56,7% 26,8%
Pernambuco 54,4% 36,6%
Acre 54,3% 26,9%
Paraíba 53,8% 36,4%
Ceará 52,6% 31,0%
Mato Grosso 50,8% 38,9%
Maranhão 46,8% 23,9%
Sergipe 46,7% 28,8%
Piauí 45,2% 24,1%
Pará 44,6% 21,9%
Rio Grande do Norte 43,5% 36,3%
Amazonas 31,2% 20,9%
Bahia 28,7% 23,0%
  • Excludes states created after 1940.

Cities and townsEdit

In a list of the 144 Brazilian towns with the highest percentages of whites, all the cities were located in two states: Rio Grande do Sul or Santa Catarina. All these towns are settled predominantly by Brazilians of German and Italian descent and are very small. It is important to note that in the late 19th century, many German and Italian immigrants created small communities across Southern Brazil. These communities were settled, in many cases, exclusivily by European immigrants and their descendants.[citation needed][258] The Brazilian towns with the largest percentages of whites are the following:[259]

  1. Montauri (Rio Grande do Sul): 100% White (1,615 inhabitants)
  2. Leoberto Leal (Santa Catarina): 99.82% (3,348 inhabitants)
  3. Pedras Grandes (Santa Catarina): 99.81% (4,849 inhabitants)
  4. Capitão (Rio Grande do Sul): 99.77% (2,751 inhabitants)
  5. Santa Tereza (Rio Grande do Sul): 99.69% (1,604 inhabitants)
  6. Cunhataí (Santa Catarina): 99.67% (1,740 inhabitants)
  7. São Martinho (Santa Catarina): 99.64% (3,221 inhabitants)
  8. Guabiju (Rio Grande do Sul): 99.62% (1,775 inhabitants)

The Brazilian towns with the lowest percentages of whites are located in Northern and Northeastern Brazil and are also small.

  1. Nossa Senhora das Dores (Sergipe): 0.71% White (23,817 inhabitants, 98.16% "pardos")
  2. Santo Inácio do Piauí (Piauí): 2.25% (3,523 inhabitants, 96.90% "pardos")
  3. Uiramutã (Roraima): 2.33% (6,430 inhabitants, 74.41% Amerindian)
  4. Ipixuna (Amazonas): 2.35% (17,258 inhabitants, 80.46% "pardos")
  5. Caapiranga (Amazonas): 2.97% (9,996 inhabitants, 81.68% "pardos")
  6. Fonte Boa (Amazonas): 3.01% (37,595 inhabitants, 86.46% "pardos")
  7. Santa Isabel do Rio Negro (Amazonas): 3.15% (16,622 inhabitants, 59.62% "pardos", 34.75% Amerindian)
  8. Serrano do Maranhão (Maranhão): 3.30% (5,547 inhabitants, 69.08% "pardos", 24.97% Black)

Genetic researchEdit

The genes can reveal from what part of the world the oldest ancestors of the paternal and maternal line of a person came from. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is present in all human beings and passed down through the maternal line, i.e. the mother of a mother of a mother etc. The Y chromosome is present only in males and passed down through the paternal line, i.e., the father of a father of a father etc. The mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome suffer only minor mutations through centuries, thus can be used to establish the paternal line in males (because only males have the Y chromosome) and the maternal line in both males and females.

According to a genetic study about Brazilians (based upon about 200 samples), on the paternal side, 98% of the white Brazilian Y Chromosome comes from a European male ancestor, only 2% from an African ancestor and there is a complete absence of Amerindian contributions. On the maternal side, 39% have European Mitochondrial DNA, 33% Amerindian and 28% African female ancestry. This, considering the facts that the slave trade was effectively suppressed in 1850, and that the Amerindian population had been reduced to small numbers even earlier, shows that at least 61% of white Brazilians had at least one ancestor living in Brazil before the beginning of the Great Immigration. This analysis, however, only shows a small fraction of a person's ancestry (the Y Chromosome comes from a single male ancestor and the mtDNA from a single female ancestor, while the contributions of the many other ancestors is not specified).[260]

According to another genetic research (based upon about 200 samples again) over 75% of caucasians from North, Northeast and Southeast Brazil would have over 10% Sub-Saharan African genes, and that this would also be the case with Southern Brazil for 49% of the caucasian population. According to this study, in all United States 11% of Caucasians have over 10% African genes. Thus, 86% of Brazilians would have at least 10% of genes that came from Africa. The researchers however were cautious about its conclusions: "Obviously these estimates were made by extrapolation of experimental results with relatively small samples and, therefore, their confidence limits are very ample". A new autosomal study from 2011, also led by Sérgio Pena, but with nearly 1000 samples this time, from all over the country, shows that in most Brazilian regions most Brazilians "whites" are less than 10% African in ancestry, and it also shows that the "pardos" are predominantly European in ancestry, the European ancestry being therefore the main component in the Brazilian population, in spite of a very high degree of African ancestry and significant Native American contribution.[261] Other autosomal studies (see some of them below) show a European predominance in the Brazilian population.

Another genetic research suggested that the white Brazilian population is not genetically homogenous, as its genomic ancestry varies in different regions. Samples of white males from Rio Grande do Sul have showed significant differences between whites of different localities of state. In a sample from the town of Veranópolis, heavily settled by people of Italian descent, the results from the maternal and paternal sides showed almost complete European ancestry. On the other hand, a sample of whites from several other regions of Rio Grande do Sul showed significant fractions of Native American (36%) and African (16%) mtDNA haplogroups.[262]

Another study (based on blood polymorphisms, from 1981) carried out in one thousand individuals from Porto Alegre city, Southern Brazil, and 760 from Natal city, Northeastern Brazil, found whites of Porto Alegre had 8% of African alleles and in Natal the ancestry of the samples total was characterized as 58% white, 25% black, and 17% Amerindian. This study found that persons identified as white or Pardo in Natal have similar ancestries, a dominant European ancestry, while persons identified as white in Porto Alegre have an overwhelming majority of European ancestry.[263]

According to an autosomal DNA genetic study from 2011, both "whites" and "pardos" from Fortaleza have a predominantly degree of European ancestry (>70%), with minor but important African and Native American contributions. "Whites" and "pardos" from Belém and Ilhéus also were found to be pred. European in ancestry, with minor Native American and African contributions.[261]

Genomic ancestry of individuals in Porto Alegre Sérgio Pena et al. 2011.[261]
colour Amerindian African European
white 9.3% 5.3% 85.5%
pardo 11.4% 44.4% 44.2%
black 11% 45.9% 43.1%
total 9.6% 12.7% 77.7%
Genomic ancestry of individuals in Fortaleza Sérgio Pena et al. 2011.[261]
colour Amerindian African European
white 10.9% 13.3% 75.8%
pardo 12.8% 14.4% 72.8%
black N.S. N.S. N.S
Genomic ancestry of non-related individuals in Rio de Janeiro Sérgio Pena et al. 2009[53]
Cor Number of individuals Amerindian African European
White 107 6.7% 6.9% 86.4%
"parda" 119 8.3% 23.6% 68.1%
"preta" 109 7.3% 50.9% 41.8%

According to another study, autosomal DNA study (see table), those who identified as whites in Rio de Janeiro turned out to have 86.4% – and self identified pardos 68.1% – European ancestry on average. Blacks were found out to have on average 41.8% European ancestry.[53]

According to another study (from 1965, and based on blood groups and electrophoretic markers) carried out on whites of Northeastern Brazilian origin living in São Paulo the ancestries would be 70% European, 18% African and 12% Amerindian admixture.[264]

Another study (autosomal DNA study, from 2010) found out that European ancestry predominates in the Brazilian population as a whole ("whites", "pardos" and "blacks" altogether). European ancestry is dominant throughout Brazil at nearly 80%, except for the Southern part of Brazil, where the European heritage reaches 90%. "A new portrayal of each ethnicity contribution to the DNA of Brazilians, obtained with samples from the five regions of the country, has indicated that, on average, European ancestors are responsible for nearly 80% of the genetic heritage of the population. The variation between the regions is small, with the possible exception of the South, where the European contribution reaches nearly 90%. The results, published by the scientific magazine 'American Journal of Human Biology' by a team of the Catholic University of Brasília, show that, in Brazil, physical indicators such as skin colour, colour of the eyes and colour of the hair have little to do with the genetic ancestry of each person, which has been shown in previous studies"(regardless of census classification).[265] "Ancestry informative SNPs can be useful to estimate individual and population biogeographical ancestry. Brazilian population is characterized by a genetic background of three parental populations (European, African, and Brazilian Native Amerindians) with a wide degree and diverse patterns of admixture. In this work we analyzed the information content of 28 ancestry-informative SNPs into multiplexed panels using three parental population sources (African, Amerindian, and European) to infer the genetic admixture in an urban sample of the five Brazilian geopolitical regions. The SNPs assigned apart the parental populations from each other and thus can be applied for ancestry estimation in a three hybrid admixed population. Data was used to infer genetic ancestry in Brazilians with an admixture model. Pairwise estimates of F (st) among the five Brazilian geopolitical regions suggested little genetic differentiation only between the South and the remaining regions. Estimates of ancestry results are consistent with the heterogeneous genetic profile of Brazilian population, with a major contribution of European ancestry (0.771) followed by African (0.143) and Amerindian contributions (0.085). The described multiplexed SNP panels can be useful tool for bioanthropological studies but it can be mainly valuable to control for spurious results in genetic association studies in admixed populations."[266] It is important to note that "the samples came from free of charge paternity test takers, thus as the researchers made it explicit: "the paternity tests were free of charge, the population samples involved people of variable socioeconomic strata, although likely to be leaning slightly towards the ‘‘pardo’’ group".[267] According to it the total European, African and Native American contributions to the Brazilian population are:

Region[267] European African Native American
North Region 71,10% 18,20% 10,70%
Northeast Region 77,40% 13,60% 8,90%
Central-West Region 65,90% 18,70% 11,80%
Southeast Region 79,90% 14,10% 6,10%
South Region 87,70% 7,70% 5,20%

In support of the dominant European heritage of Brazil, according to another autosomal DNA study (from 2009) conducted on a school in the poor periphery of Rio de Janeiro the "pardos" there were found to be on average over 80% European, and the "whites" (who thought of themselves as "very mixed") were found out to carry very little Amerindian or African admixtures. "The results of the tests of genomic ancestry are quite different from the self made estimates of European ancestry", say the researchers. In general, the test results showed that European ancestry is far more important than the students thought it would be. The "pardos" for example thought of themselves as ⅓ European, ⅓ African and ⅓ Amerindian before the tests, and yet their ancestry was determined to be at over 80% European. The "blacks" (pretos) of the periphery of Rio de Janeiro, according to this study, thought of themselves as predominantly African before the study and yet they turned out predominantly European (at 52%), the African contribution at 41% and the Native American 7%.[30][31][268]

An autosomal study from 2013, with nearly 1300 samples from all of the Brazilian regions, found a pred. degree of European ancestry combined with African and Native American contributions, in varying degrees. 'Following an increasing North to South gradient, European ancestry was the most prevalent in all urban populations (with values up to 74%). The populations in the North consisted of a significant proportion of Native American ancestry that was about two times higher than the African contribution. Conversely, in the Northeast, Center-West and Southeast, African ancestry was the second most prevalent. At an intrapopulation level, all urban populations were highly admixed, and most of the variation in ancestry proportions was observed between individuals within each population rather than among population'.[269]

Region[270] European African Native American
North Region 51% 17% 32%
Northeast Region 56% 28% 16%
Central-West Region 58% 26% 16%
Southeast Region 61% 27% 12%
South Region 74% 15% 11%

According to another autosomal DNA study from 2009, the Brazilian population, in all regions of the country, was also found out to be predominantly European: "all the Brazilian samples (regions) lie more closely to the European group than to the African populations or to the Mestizos from Mexico".[271] According to it the total European, African and Native American contributions to the Brazilian population are:

Region[272] European African Native American
North Region 60,6% 21,3% 18,1%
Northeast Region 66,7% 23,3% 10,0%
Central-West Region 66,3% 21,7% 12,0%
Southeast Region 60,7% 32,0% 7,3%
South Region 81,5% 9,3% 9,2%

According to another autosomal study from 2008, by the University of Brasília (UnB), European ancestry dominates in the whole of Brazil (in all regions), accounting for 65,90% of heritage of the population, followed by the African contribution (24,80%) and the Native American (9,3%).[273]

An autosomal study from 2011 (with nearly almost 1000 samples from all over the country, "whites", "pardos" and "blacks" included, according to their respective proportions) has also concluded that European ancestry is the predominant ancestry in Brazil, accounting for nearly 70% of the ancestry of the population: "In all regions studied, the European ancestry was predominant, with proportions ranging from 60.6% in the Northeast to 77.7% in the South".[261] The 2011 autosomal study samples came from blood donors (the lowest classes constitute the great majority of blood donors in Brazil[274]), and also public health institutions personnel and health students. In all Brazilian regions European, African and Amerindian genetic markers are found in the local populations, even though the proportion of each varies from region to region and from individual to individual.[275][276] However most regions showed basically the same structure, a greater European contribution to the population, followed by African and Native American contributions: "Some people had the vision Brazil was a heterogeneous mosaic [...] Our study proves Brazil is a lot more integrated than some expected".[277] Brazilian homogeneity is, therefore, greater within regions than between them:

Region[31] European African Native American
Northern Brazil 68,80% 10,50% 18,50%
Northeast of Brazil 60,10% 29,30% 8,90%
Southeast Brazil 74,20% 17,30% 7,30%
Southern Brazil 79,50% 10,30% 9,40%

A 2015 autosomal genetic study, which also analysed data of 25 studies of 38 different Brazilian populations concluded that: European ancestry accounts for 62% of the heritage of the population, followed by the African (21%) and the Native American (17%). The European contribution is highest in Southern Brazil (77%), the African highest in Northeast Brazil (27%) and the Native American is the highest in Northern Brazil (32%).[278]

Region[278] European African Native American
North Region 51% 16% 32%
Northeast Region 58% 27% 15%
Central-West Region 64% 24% 12%
Southeast Region 67% 23% 10%
South Region 77% 12% 11%

According to an autosomal DNA study (from 2003) focused on the composition of the Brazilian population as a whole, "European contribution [...] is highest in the South (81% to 82%), and lowest in the North (68% to 71%). The African component is lowest in the South (11%), while the highest values are found in the Southeast (18–20%). Extreme values for the Amerindian fraction were found in the South and Southeast (7%-8%) and North (17%-18%)". The researchers were cautious with the results as their samples came from paternity test takers which may have skewed the results partly.[279][280]

São Paulo state, the most populous state in Brazil, with about 40 million people, showed the following composition, according to an autosomal study from 2006: European genes account for 79% of the heritage of the people of São Paulo, 14% are of African origin, and 7% Native American.[281] A more recent study, from 2013, found the following composition in São Paulo state: 61,9% European, 25,5% African and 11,6% Native American.[282]

Several other older studies have suggested that European ancestry is the main component in all Brazilian regions. A study from 1965, Methods of Analysis of a Hybrid Population (Human Biology, vol 37, number 1), led by the geneticists D. F. Roberts e R. W. Hiorns, found out the average the Northeastern Brazilian to be predominantly European in ancestry (65%), with minor but important African and Native American contributions (25% and 9%).[283] A study from 2002 quoted previous and older studies,[284][285][286][287] saying that: "Salzano (28, a study from 1997) calculated for the Northeastern population as a whole, 51% European, 36% African, and 13% Amerindian ancestries whereas in the north, Santos and Guerreiro (29, a study from 1995) obtained 47% European, 12% African, and 41% Amerindian descent, and in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, Dornelles et al. (30, a study from 1999) calculated 82% European, 7% African, and 11% Amerindian ancestries. Krieger et al. (31, a study from 1965) studied a population of Brazilian northeastern origin living in São Paulo with blood groups and electrophoretic markers and showed that whites presented 18% of African and 12% of Amerindian genetic contribution and that blacks presented 28% of European and 5% of Amerindian genetic contribution (31). Of course, all of these Amerindian admixture estimates are subject to the caveat mentioned in the previous paragraph. At any rate, compared with these previous studies, our estimates showed higher levels of bidirectional admixture between Africans and non-Africans."[264]

See alsoEdit


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